Read Acts 15:1-16:5
Timothy’s parental home was not ideal. Whose is? Nevertheless, under the influence of a godly mother and a grandmother who was also a sincere Christ follower, he had been molded into a man of God. Even as a young man, he earned a positive reputation among the older men in the church in the region of Lystra and Iconium. Paul recognized Tim’s potential and invited him along so that he could mentor this young man and see the work of God multiply.
We dare not overlook what happened there! Can I ask you . . . is there a person in whom you are investing so that she matures in faith? Are you helping equip him to serve God? It could be a younger relative or a younger husband or wife. That kind of investment is key to the making of a man or woman of God!
Lesson #1 for Timothy was an ironic and painful one. It is only fully understood and appreciated with Acts chapter 15 as a backdrop. You see, as Gentiles embraced the gospel, some Jewish believers expressed their strong opinion that for a Gentile, faith in Christ was not adequate. The male believers would also have to be circumcised. This thought polarized the early church . . . so much so that the first church counsel was called to discuss this important issue. The outcome? Faith in Christ is enough! Circumcision is not necessary!
As Paul distributed letters to the churches outlining the decision, what was the first thing that Paul required of Timothy? Circumcision! “Wait a minute!” you might say. “I thought the decision had been made that circumcision was not required!” Good point. In fact, Paul was one of several pointing out how useless this physical act was! At first glance, it makes no sense.
It makes no sense, that is, unless you understand it from a standpoint of a Jewish unbeliever. You see, such people would likely reason, “What right does this uncircumcised Gentile have to tell me about faith issues?” After his circumcision, however, Timothy, the half-Jew, half-Gentile, gained credibility that would open doors to a more fruitful ministry.
Perhaps we can summarize ministry lesson #1 with these words, “In areas of freedom, choose a course that will build bridges rather than walls.”